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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wasn't Very Enjoyable, 6 Dec. 2009
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M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Princess Casamassima (Classics) (Paperback)
So far this is the first book of James' that I have absolutely come to loath. Often grouped with 'The Bostonians' due to its political leanings this isn't really that enjoyable. There is some good characterisation here but the whole story seems to meander on for way too long, indeed James was originally tasked with writing a short story, but he ended up producing a novel, rather like Balzac, sometimes he gets carried away a bit too much.

This book it has to be admitted has always been enjoyed more Stateside than it has in this country, but it has always divided reviewers on its merits and failings. The story of an illegitimate boy brought up by a relative stranger from an early age because his mother is in prison would seem like a good starting point. But alas when the radical politics start getting involved and our 'hero' having to decide whether to go ahead with a terrorist attack or do something else then tragedy strikes. The problem here is that the whole story is dragged out and it is oh so easy to lose interest, also James isn't really that up on what he is writing about, for instance compare this to the brilliant The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale, by Joseph Conrad.

All in all I was left disappointed, and if you have never read any James before, then DO NOT start with this book. Despite its many faults though there is a good sense of our main character feeling and being isolated and a loner throughout the story.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Untypical James, 16 Mar. 2010
This review is from: The Princess Casamassima (Classics) (Paperback)
This is probably the most untypical novel Henry James wrote. His sure footing when dealing with the leasurely wealthy, slips here. The characters simply do not convince and James appears almost patronising towards them. His hero has the most annoying and inappropriate name - "Hyacinth."
I suppose James should be commended for reaching outside his normal milieu, but "The Master" is not on form here. A clumsy long-winded apprentice has taken his place.
The is one for the completists only. For anyone new to Henry James try "The Portrait of a Lady," "The American", "Daisy Miller" or "The Europeans"- all great, accomplished books.
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The Princess Casamassima (Classics)
The Princess Casamassima (Classics) by Henry James (Paperback - 29 Jan. 1987)
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